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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Tats and their tales: students share stories of getting ink

Imagine walking into a tattoo parlor for the first time: smelling cleaning agents, seeing artwork covering the walls and hearing tattoo guns drilling in the background.

You know you want a tattoo, but are flooded with mixed emotions.

Relax, take a deep breath and get tatted.

Having trouble deciding what to get?

Take some advice from students who chose tattoos with personal meaning.

“I think it’s really important to pick something that has significance to you,” said first-year Hollis Haid. “I don’t think tattoos should be taken lightly. If you’re going to put something permanent on your body, it needs to be something that you really have thought about.”

Haid ensures that each of her six tattoos have personal importance. The pink lotus flower on her left thigh symbolizes rebirth and compassion in honor of her sister.

“Even if 10 years from now I hate my lotus flower for whatever reason, the meaning is still there,” said Haid.

The pyramid on her left arm reminds her that she is grounded.

“My pyramid is for recovering from an eating disorder and reminding myself that my body is a temple and to respect it,” said Haid. “Pyramids have a very solid foundation, which is where I feel like I am and what I am building up to. I hope to have a smooth and solid foundation moving forward in life.”

Junior Joey Able’s first of four tattoos is a family memorandum.

On his back, tribal artwork borders his last name. Below sits a large red V to honor five generations of his last name.

It is clear that there is no right way to pick the best tattoo.

Sophomore Ollie Aberle-Grasse wears an outline of Malawi on his right shoulder to represent where he lived for five years. Junior Satiir Stevenson has his parents’ and sister’s names on his arms to represent his family.

Others, such as Assistant Professor of English Cynthia Nearman, have more of an appreciation for the artfulness of their tattoos.

Nearman got her first tattoo when she was 19 years old while studying abroad in London. The forsythia branches on her left shoulder reminds her of her childhood as her father used to pick them for her. She grew up thinking they were called “For Cynthias.”

In 2005, Nearman got the map of the world tattooed on her right forearm, representing her love for travel.

In reminiscing on her thoughts after leaving the parlor, Nearman wondered, “How are you just going to let me walk away with your art? It’s beautiful.”

Junior Molly Schneider is another example of someone who picks her ink based on aesthetic appeal.

“I wanted something that was beautiful in an artful way,” said Schneider. “I think you can get a tattoo that doesn’t even mean anything to you. If it is beautiful and done really well, I think that is valid enough.”

Schneider loves her cherry blossom branch with orange flowers on her left hip for its beauty.

The same is true for sophomore Alexandra Marlowe, who sketched her own cat tattoo before getting it inked on her chest.

After choosing what to get, the next step is deciding where to go and who your artist should be.

When looking for the right tattoo parlor, some feel cleanliness is the most important factor to consider.

“If you walk in and things don’t look clean and comforting, don’t get your tattoos there,” said Marlowe.

Others find the prices to be the biggest deciding factor. When it comes to tattoos, “Cheap tattoos aren’t good, and good tattoos aren’t cheap,” said tattoo artist Russell Lucas of Carolina Tattoo.

Others choose where to go based on their interest in an artist’s style.

“Look through portfolios and find someone whose style fits what you want,” said tattoo artist Zach Crisp of Golden Spiral Studios.

It can also be helpful to establish a relationship with your artist and thoroughly explain what you’re looking for.

“You have to be really stern about what you want,” said Schneider.

Remember that tattoos are permanent, so make sure you speak up.

“If there is something you don’t like, say it,” Haid said. “You really have to keep your personal belief of what you want, and stick to it.”

Once you get your new ink, it is crucial to follow the healing instructions given by the tattoo artist. Failing to do so can result in infection or fading.

So, do your research to find the perfect tattoo, artist and parlor for you.

As Able put it, “My body is like a temple, and I am going to decorate the walls.”

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